Original French MLE 1866-74 M80 Gras Infantry Converted Rifle - Made in 1871
Original Item: Only One Available. The Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80 was a French service rifle of the 19th century. The Gras used by the French Army was an adaptation to metallic cartridge of the Chassepot breech-loading rifle by Colonel Basile Gras. This example was originally a needle fire Chassepot, the French ignition system introduced in 1866. It was a single shot bolt-action rifle and was among the best of its kind at the type, being superior to the German Dreyse Needle fire system. It was quickly surpassed however, principally by the British Martini-Henry system. In 1874 the self contained cartridge Gras bolt-action system was introduced, and the Chassepots in service were converted to this system,and had additional markings added indicating this.
The left side of the receiver marked St. Étienne MLE 1866 - 74 / M80 indicating manufacture at the government arsenal at St. Etienne. The rifle has arsenal proofs on most parts, and also is marked S.1871 T. 82 indicating that it was originally manufactured as a Chassepot in 1871, an then converted to Gras in 1882.
The rifle has mismatched serial numbers, with 51765 on the barrel, and different ones on the stock, and parts of the bolt. The barrel is also marked MADE IN FRANCE behind the rear sight, which indicates that this rifle was exported, possibly to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War.
Condition of the rifle is good, though it definitely does show long service. Wood is in solid condition but does have quite a bit of dents and other wear. Metalwork is in good condition, but the finish is worn on many of the fittings. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, but does also have a somewhat oxidized finnish.
A really nice M-1866-74 Chassepot/Gras rifle fully cleaned. Ready to display.
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